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East Falls residents explore five sites for local dog park

Members of an initiative to bring a dog park to East Falls met at the Trolley Car Café on Tuesday night to discuss the key component to their proposal – location, location, location.

Led by East Falls resident Kelly Grieco, a dozen community members gathered to weigh the merits of several proposed locations in their neighborhood. In addition, consideration was given to the various means of assessing community support for their findings.

Since the original announcement of the initiative in February, Grieco has spoken with the organizers of other area dog parks and to relevant city agencies, including the Department of Parks and Recreation.

At present, the short list of potential sites includes five locations that span almost the entirety of East Falls.

“We have to have as many options as possible,” said Grieco. “Without a location,” she continued, “we have no dog park.”

Inn Yard Park

Among the most viable options discussed was Inn Yard Park, located on Ridge Ave.

In addition to its current use as an informal park for dogs, its highly visible location in the center of the East Falls business district would lend itself to both residents and visitors. Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corporation, indicated a willingness to support a dog park in the business district.

Grieco said she has been in contact with Sarah Taylor, who spearheaded the successful effort to open a playground at the site.

While it remains the least accommodating in terms of available space, the overall appeal of the site inspired Grieco to say, “it’s got my vote.”

PWD Facility at Queen Lane

A strong contender for usage is the Philadelphia Water Department’s facility on Queen Lane, which serves at present as a de facto dog park for many Fallsers. And, given the mixed response from the community to PWD’s proposal for fencing at the site, several people present speculated that PWD may be willing to accommodate community-based usage proposals.

Compounding this proposal is a letter received by Grieco from a resident of Queen Lane that signals opposition to a Queen Lane dog park.

In the letter, the resident pointed to a similar initiative that took root in the Fairmount neighborhood, opposite Eastern State Penitentiary.

Early in its existence, parking complaints, waste disposal, and the malodorous impacts of canine visitors mounted. Ultimately, they resulted in a court decision rendering the property a nuisance, with the property closing shortly thereafter.

McMichael Park

While McMichael Park remains a verdant, central and sizable location, a history of rebuffed proposals suggests that dog park organizers will be looking elsewhere.

Residents present at the meeting referenced what was described as a “brutal” exchange between members of the Friends of McMichael Park and community residents interested in locating a kiddie playground at the Midvale Avenue. location.

Iron Stone

Iron Stone refers to the property management group that manages the Falls Center, who has lot space available on Scotts Lane, opposite McDevitt Recreation Center.

At present, the lot is paved, thus requiring additional funding and effort to make it dog-friendly. Mirroring apprehensions surrounding the usage of McDevitt, safety-issues were voiced. In addition, due to its comparatively out-of-the-way location, many visitors would be forced to drive.

The upshot to this, noted committee member Claire Stilley, is that there would plenty of parking. Stilley has been in contact with Iron Stone executives, and indicated that they have been receptive to the dog park initiative, and are interested in an ongoing dialogue.

McDevitt & Philadelphia University

McDevitt Recreation Center, located on Scotts Lane and additionally accessible via a pedestrian bridge that crosses Rt. 1, was investigated.

While the park was described as being spacious, residents voiced concerns about safety.

While not ruling anything out, Grieco said that due to safety concerns, McDevitt was “pretty low on the totem pole.”

The grounds of Philadelphia University were also examined as a potential site early in the process, but Grieco relayed that conversations with Philadelphia University representatives indicated that a lengthy approval process would be necessary.

Stay tuned…

Following the meeting, dog park organizers will review the viability of each location. In addition, they will begin polling the community at local events, ultimately resulting in a formal solicitation of community sentiments through email and local media outlets.

No location is perfect, but Grieco remains committed.

“There are some obstacles with certain locations,” said Grieco, “but we can overcome them.”

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